How Facebook Post Length Affects Click Through Rate

Good morning Internet fans. Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. It is the first Wednesday of 2016, welcome to Social Media Wednesday, and since it is the first Wednesday, I have Sarah Giometti with Provaro Marketing. Good morning, Sarah.

Sarah Giometti: Good morning, Ryan. How are you?

RP: I’m doing great. I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year’s. I understand you were down south for awhile?

SG: I was, I spent about a week down with my family in Los Angeles for the Christmas holiday and then was home for New Year’s.

RP: Okay, I got to do both. I was down for Christmas and New Year’s. I got to see the Rose Parade for the first time, which was pretty cool. It was a good time, but now it’s 2016. It’s time to get back to work, time to get back into the groove of things and that means we got to start our first episode of Social Media Wednesday in 2016.

SG: It is. It’s time to get back and a lot of businesses, now they’re getting back into the groove. I met with someone yesterday, and they called this week the trial week of getting back into the groove of working and looking at what you’re doing for the year for your marketing, and people are hopefully looking at their social media strategy and setting that up for the month and I was reading an article recently that NPR, a study NPR did that I thought would be really interesting for our viewers on the length of their Facebook posts, how many characters they write in each post.

RP: So we’re talking about the number of individual characters in the post. Now, are we including pictures, video, anything like that?

SG: Their particular study was focused on their link posts. So as they said, their number one goal is to drive traffic from Facebook to their website and so they focused their study on their link posts and I think they went back about six months, about 3,000 posts, something like that. And they were able to get some information on, and they broke it down on increments of 40 characters. So yeah, it’s every individual character, not words. They did it in increments of 40 characters, so zero to 40, 41 to 80, 81 and 120 and on up, and to see how many links or how many… What the click-through rate was. How many people clicked from the Facebook post quick link and went to the website to see what was working and what wasn’t working for them.

RP: Right, and it’s one of those things if you’re going to put time and energy into creating a social media marketing plan, you want to maximize your effort as much as possible and if you get a 2% increase, you know, over time, that can be a lot of new traffic going to your website.

SG: Right, and if you look at your data like they did, and granted they’re a news organization, they’re putting out content left and right and no small business is doing that, and that’s okay. However, you still need to look at what works and what doesn’t and what they were seeing was under a 120 characters got more clicks through to their website than above a 120 characters. And so what this tells them is to do more of the shorter posts. And there was still clicks-through and then we’ll get into the other data that they pulled out of it. There was still value in the longer ones, but this told them to increase the shorter ones. And so for a small business owner, you can still look at the data and do the same analysis for yourself, it is look at the number of characters, look at the type of post you’re doing and see what’s working better than others and adjust your strategy on the fly.

RP: Right, and you know from the outside that seems to make sense ’cause if give you a short little snippet of information, but I can make it interesting, then you’re going to want to read more and the only way you can read more is by clicking on it versus if I give you the overall gist of what the story is in a condensed format, then why should I click to get more information.

SG: Right, but that leads us into the other data they did is they looked at what Facebook calls “other clicks,” and if you’ve never looked at the full information and insights of an individual post on your Facebook page, you’re missing out on some data, and what Facebook vaguely calls “other clicks.” And what the other clicks are, if your post is longer and it has a read more, it’s that click, but it also could be a click on the page name, on the profile photo, if you have an image attached to it, so it’s all these other clicks that people do other than clicking the link that drives to the website. And let’s do a quick screen share just so you can see where to find these analytics so you can look at more data, because those other clicks are important ’cause it does mean people are engaging and it doesn’t show up necessarily as a like or a share or a comment, but people are engaging, and so, it does show you that people like that particular content. I’m going to switch on over here to my screen share.

RP: Alright, and basically what we’re going to do is we’re going to go, you’re going to go into Facebook Insights, which is their version of analytics.

SG: Right, which I’m actually not. I’m doing it straight from the wall… You can do it from inside Insights, but a really quick way to do it is if you’re looking, so here I am on one of the pages that I manage, and if you’re looking at just the particular post, you can see right here how many people it was reached, it’s a clickable link. If you click that, you pop up with this analytics box and you can see how many people are reached, how many likes, comments, and shares and individually, the likes on the post, comment shares, but what you have right here down the bottom right is this “other clicks.”

SG: And so, this is people, maybe on this particular post they clicked on her page name, they clicked on her profile photo, or they clicked on this hashtag right here. There’s a lot of other places for them to click, they might have clicked down here to see who liked it, what the comments are. And so, this is a piece of data that a lot of small businesses doesn’t know exist.

SG: You also got the link clicks here, so you can also see who directly linked, or clicked the link to your website. But this is other data that businesses are missing and this is the piece of data that NPR… When they looked at that and they blended it back in and combined it, they call it an Adjusted Click-Through Rate. So they combined these other clicks with the link clicks and divided it by people reach per post. What they found was the longer posts, the over-200 characters got way more engagement and the overall clicks were way more than the shorter ones.

SG: Those were still very valuable information when you look at that other clicks, but on the surface when they originally just looked at clicking through to the website, they weren’t as valuable. But now that they look and see, yes, those longer posts, people are reading the information. What this tells business owners and told them is having variety is the best approach.

RP: Yeah. And I think that’s important because maybe not everybody wants the full length NPR, “I gotta click and go to the website. A lot of people just give me the snapshot. Just give me the core important information overview.” You’ve talked about variety all the time. May it be text, pictures, video, using hashtags, all those type of things. So variety is the spice of life, and I think where it really becomes important is just understanding who your audience is and the different type of content that they what to see and how they want to see it, may it be a 120 characters or 400 characters.

SG: Right, and an individual person one day might only have enough time for a 120 characters. And another day, on Sunday morning with their coffee, might be willing to read 400 characters. So you also have to look at that. An individual person’s needs and preferences will change throughout the week depending on where they are, what they’re doing, if they’re sitting in a… Waiting for a meeting or an appointment. They’re just skimming Facebook, they want the short and sweet.

SG: So that’s another reason why you want to have the variety so that you’ll culminate as well as you can everybody’s needs throughout the week and throughout the month. When I say when you’re doing text updates and text updates with links, is have variety in the length of your post. Throw it into Word, and Word has a really easy character counter, under I think it’s the Research tab or something like that, or Review tab. You can do a word count, and when you do the word count, it comes up and tells you the character count. So type it into Word real quick, see how long it is, and make sure you add some variety to what you’re doing in your strategy as you’re looking forward to the New Year.

RP: Yeah, I was watching Shark Tank the other night and they had Mark, Matt Daymond… What’s his name? Mark… Is it Mark Daymond? …

SG: I don’t know. I don’t watch that show.

RP: The Fubu guy. Gosh, I can’t think of his name, but he had a guest, a chef on there who was big in the social media. The chef said something I really thought was interesting. He said, “One of the biggest things I learned by being on social media was that people don’t follow you. You have to follow people. When you follow people and you engage in them, they want to engage in you.”

RP: I thought that was really a powerful statement because as business owners, we’re so concerned about our clickthroughs and our metrics and all of those type of things. But it really boils down to, I think, that human experience. I can get a bunch of people to give me a high five as an example. However, if nobody really cares about who I am and are just doing it to do it, then I don’t really get any value out of it.

RP: If people are giving me a high five because they want to see me succeed, and they want to encourage me, then that provides value. But in order to do that, I have to engage with those people. So kind of way I tie that into this whole NPR study is the fact that your audience is different. As a business owner, if all you’re concerned about is “my clickthrough rate, my clickthrough rate, my clickthrough rate, I gotta drive traffic to my website,” okay, yeah. You can focus on that, be successful. But if you’re not doing it in a way that is relevant to your audience and you’re not engaging the audience the way that they want to be engaged in, the quality of that clickthrough rate may not be that good.

SG: Right. And the number one thing to always remember on social media is it’s meant to be social. It’s meant to still be a community engagement thing. And so you don’t want to do every single post with a link, with that clickthrough link. You want to have, just have a picture or just text. Things that keep them on Facebook, that keep them engaged with you and with your community. And you want to have, you want to foster an environment where the people, your community are talking to each other, in the comments of a post. They’re having a constructive discussion, or they’re answering each other’s questions. That’s the ultimate goal. ‘Cause if you create this community and these, the people will eventually buy it from you.

SG: You don’t have to worry so much about… It’s not all about the clickthrough rate, of driving traffic to your website. Yes, that is important, that’s why you want to create content, but you also want to foster this environment on social media and try and create, ’cause you most likely have a community of like-minded people that are already following you, and so, if you can create an engaging community where they interact with each other, then it’s a much more enriching environment, and it’s going to elevate you even further than if you just focus on driving traffic to your website.

RP: Yeah, perfect. Alright, so I think the key takeaway as with just about anything that we talk about with posting content maybe on Twitter or Facebook is that you really need to check it out for yourself. Go back, like Sarah showed you, go back, click on your individual post, take a look at the metrics, click on your insights and you could see all the metrics for all your different posts, and see if there’s any trends that are going on there.

RP: If you don’t see any trends, try some variety, do the shorter text, the longer text and see if there’s any difference and then, like Sarah was saying, it could be something where on Sunday, people may be more engaging on Sunday because they have more time. We just did a show a couple of weeks ago about Twitter that if you want the most re-tweets on Twitter, Sunday is a great day to do that. So, the only way you’re really going to know for yourself though is to check it out and try it yourself.

SG: Absolutely. You’ve gotta at least do something and just play around with it and see what your results are. And definitely comment on this below, even if it’s a month out, we’d love to hear what your results are if you start experimenting with the lengths of your posts.

RP: Alright, perfect. Sarah, as always, I appreciate the time and energy that you put into the show. That’s it for today’s episode of Social Media Wednesday. We will be back next week, same place, same time which is 9:45 Pacific Standard Time. Alright everybody, take care. Hope you’re having a great New Year.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

Leave A Comment